I am not a good test taker. I was always the student that had to study A LOT to do well on exams. This time was no different! In mid-July I got the email that I was able to schedule my RD exam. There weren’t any test dates open for a few months, so I originally scheduled it for Sept. 8, which would give me a good few months to study. I had actually already started prepping to study back in June, but I started a new job and then went to Norway, so I really hadn’t started seriously studying until August. Finding time to study with a full time job was hard. I was used to coming home after the internship and either going to the gym/relaxing, but now I had to buckle down and study. I actually re-scheduled my exam date for a week earlier because I just wanted to be done studying and didn’t think one week would make much of a difference. I am so glad I did!
Here is what worked for me. Keep in mind everyone studies differently, so make sure you study how you’ve always studied, and do what works best for you!
Purchase Study Materials
I bought a copy of a 2014 Jean Inman Guide on eBay for $100. The full-price version is almost $300, and I just didn’t want to spend that kind of money on a bunch of paper! I still wish I hadn’t bought the one on ebay so early, because a few weeks later I got a scanned copy for free. However, I did like having the physical copy to take notes on and refer to when studying. One of the other interns also sent us each digital files of the recordings, so I could listen along and highlight the study guide. In the end, I think the Inman guide was useful to refresh yourself on the domains, but the actual questions on the exam were not like anything I studied in Inman. Weird, I know.
I purchased Visual Veggies because I wanted to do as many practice questions as possible. I really like this software because it keeps track of your progress and tells you were you need to improve. You can also take full-length practice exams and I found these to be very beneficial! The only downside is that this program is expensive. However, it was worth it, in my opinion.
I also bought an app called Pocket Prep Dietitian for my iPad. I used it on my flight home from Norway (9+ hours on a plane and I knew I would get my moneys worth from it.) The app was about $20 and had hundreds of questions. These questions were harder than the Visual Veggies questions, but I found they were most like the questions on the actual RD exam!
Virtual flash cards were also very useful. I downloaded the Quizlet app on my iPad and iPhone and searched “RD exam”–someone had made up flashcards already! So it was a very quick way to study on the go. I didn’t use Quizlet as much as the first two, but they were helpful.
I also re-wrote out a lot of notes over and over again. I made flash cards too but hardly ever used them. I think just the act of writing out the flashcards helps. I find I need to write something out many times for it to stick in my brain. I had pages and pages and pages of notes that I carried around with me everywhere. I tried memorizing equations but in the end, I only had three actual questions on the RD exam that needed calculations!
Make a Schedule
For me, I had to have set days of the week so I would stick to it and study. I made sure to study for a few hours at least 4x week. Unfortunately it cut into my exercise time, but it was worth it. I also studied on my lunch break a few times a week since I get an hour break.
So, in the end, it worked! I passed the RD exam on my first try. If you are currently studying for the RD exam, just relax and take a deep breath–you can do this! You’ve worked SO HARD to get to this point, and you know a lot more than you think you know. GOOD LUCK!